Objective: An increasing number of ICU patients survive and develop mental, cognitive, or physical impairments. Various interventions support recovery from this postintensive care syndrome. Physicians in charge of post-ICU patients need to know which interventions are effective.
Data Sources: Systematic literature search in databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane CENTRAL, PsycInfo, CINAHL; 1991–2012), reference lists, and hand search.
Study Selection: We included comparative studies of rehabilitation interventions in adult post-ICU patients if they considered health-related quality of life, frequency/severity of postintensive care syndrome symptoms, functional recovery, need for care, autonomy in activities of daily living, mortality, or hospital readmissions.
Data Extraction: Two reviewers extracted data and assessed risk of bias independently.
Data Synthesis: From 4,761 publications, 18 studies with 2,510 patients were included. Studies addressed 20 outcomes, using 45 measures, covering inpatient (n = 4 trials), outpatient (n = 9), and mixed (n = 5) healthcare settings. Eight controlled trials with moderate to high quality were considered for evaluation of effectiveness. They investigated inpatient geriatric rehabilitation, ICU follow-up clinic, outpatient rehabilitation, disease management, and ICU diaries. Five of these trials assessed posttraumatic stress disorder, with four trials showing positive effects: first, ICU diaries reduced new-onset posttraumatic stress disorder (5% vs 13%, p = 0.02) after 3 months and second showed a lower mean Impact of Event Scale-Revised score (21.0 vs 32.1, p = 0.03) after 12 months. Third, aftercare by ICU follow-up clinic reduced Impact of Event Scale for women (20 vs 31; p < 0.01). Fourth, a self-help manual led to fewer patients scoring high in the Impact of Event Scale after 8 weeks (p = 0.026) but not after 6 months. For none of the other outcomes did more than one study report positive impacts.
Conclusion: Interventions which have substantial effects in post-ICU patients are rare. Positive effects were seen for ICU-diary interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder. More interventions for the growing number of ICU survivors are needed.